Pages tagged "Education"

  • Education Funding Motion

    I move:

    That this House:
    (1) notes:

    (a) the importance of investing in education and ensuring that Australia remains competitive by providing quality education to all Australian children regardless of their postcode; and

    (b) with concern that the gap between the most well off and disadvantaged students in Australia is on average 2.5 years, which is a much wider gap than the OECD average;

    (2) acknowledges that the:

    (a) well respected and qualified 'Gonski panel' identified six loadings and the importance of school reform as the key to improvement; and

    (b) New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, Tasmanian and Australian Capital Territory governments along with the national Catholic and independent school authorities signed up to this funding model;

    (3) recognises that under the new four year funding arrangements for education, that it is impossible for the Government to guarantee that no school across Australia will be worse off; and

    (4) calls on the Government not to return to the inequitable Socioeconomic Status scheme funding model of the past, but to commit to its promise of honouring the education funding agreements already entered into and provide equity by making it a truly national system.


    There has been much said about our performance as a nation in the international measures of education in recent years. I have not heard one voice suggest that there is not a need for improvement. In fact, I would argue that no matter what our performance—be it low or high—there will always be room for improvement, because the education of our young people must continually improve to keep pace with the demands of modern life and to ensure that Australia can compete in a global economy.

    It was to this end that the Labor government set about building a national system; a system to measure our performance and the resources going into our schools; a system that provided transparency and clear measures so that we as a nation could monitor our progress. The Labor government understood that national improvement requires national effort, a national plan, and national resourcing. The national Better Schools Plan, or Gonski as it is colloquially known, was designed to deliver just that, and it is needed—not least because each state and territory does things very differently; from curriculum to starting age, funding levels, and even centralisation and autonomy. But rather than doing as they promised, this government and this education minister have created division after diversion, to avoid getting started on the real work. On the same day that the minister made his announcement about the dismantling of ACARA, the body established to work with each state and territory system to make a national plan possible, he began a new curriculum war—the first of many distractions. And for what? So that, after years of an exhaustive consultation process, we can start again with a two-person expert review? His second distraction was about independent schools. The minister talks about independent schools with such relish, as though they are a new idea. He claims they are the cure-all for student outcome improvements. But the minister refuses to acknowledge Victoria, where autonomy and local decision-making have been happening in state schools for a long time and where, clearly, autonomy in and of itself does not improve student outcomes state-wide. And finally, in the latest announcement—that is, once again, a rehash designed to distract and divert—the minister talks about teacher training.

    The Gonski plan incorporated the required changes in teacher training. The states that signed up to Gonski have already started on this work. Labor's Gonski reforms provide the necessary funding for, and make sure that states pursue, the following improvements: better admissions; tough literacy and numeracy standards; more practical experience in the classroom; professional standards for teachers at every stage of their career; and to continue to improve teacher education programs in partnership with the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency, universities and employers. If these things are already happening, why is the government wasting money on a review? Because they are stalling. They are stalling because the minister does not want to commit to needs-based funding. He refuses to even talk about it. We have only had reference to the SES model being a good system, signalling to many a return to the Howard years—a far cry from what the Gonski panel recommended. This, despite Victoria having had a model for many years, Western Australia having already conducted a review, and New South Wales embracing the same. This is the fundamental recommendation of the Gonski report. It goes to the heart of addressing the inequity in education that is holding our performance back. The minister needs to give us at least what he said he would give us—a unity ticket on equitable education. He needs to put the planks for national school improvement back in place; to deliver the full six years of better schools funding; and to let the schools and teachers get on with the job. The new mantra for this government is, 'get out of our way'. I say to them: there must be something standing behind you, because all you are doing is moving backwards.

    I commend the motion to the House.

    The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Goodenough ): Is there a seconder for the motion? I call the member for Fisher.

  • January Schoolkids Bonus Could Be The Last

    The January payment of the Schoolkids Bonus could be the last for 1.3 million Australian families, Member for Lalor Joanne Ryan has said today.

    “The payment, made in January and July of each year, provides eligible families with $410 for every primary school child and $820 for every secondary school child,” Ms Ryan said.

    “As a former teacher and principal, I know how important this money is to local families to cover the costs of books, uniforms and excursions.”

    Ms Ryan said despite the importance of the payment, the Abbott Government has introduced legislation to scrap the Bonus.

    “This will affect close to 13,000 Wyndham families, representing over 22,000 local students,” she said.

    “If Tony Abbott’s legislation passes the Senate, the January Schoolkids Bonus payment will be their last, meaning every  one of these local families will be worse off.”

    Ms Ryan said that since 2012, the SchoolKids Bonus has delivered much needed relief for low and middle income families struggling to meet the costs of their children’s education.

    “This is a savage cut from the Abbott Government – a Government that clearly doesn’t care about local families or local kids.”

  • Iramoo Primary School

    I rise today to speak about the great work being undertaken at Iramoo Primary School in my electorate. I do so to demonstrate through a specific example that inequity in education, the existence of which was confirmed last week by the PISA report, can be overcome in our schools through system-wide improvement, focused on building leadership and teacher capacity.

    Iramoo is a primary school with significant and increasing disadvantage. To provide context, under the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage ranking, the national average is 1,000. Four years ago, Iramoo had an ICSEA ranking of 940 and grade 5 students performed 50 points below the state average in reading, writing and numeracy.

    In 2012 it had an ICSEA ranking of 928. The measure of disadvantage had actually increased and yet Iramoo students performed above state average in reading, writing and numeracy. In fact, they demonstrated growth higher than the state mean in every area that was assessed. Most impressive was the mean growth of 107 points for students between grade 3 and grade 5, particularly when compared to the state mean growth of 81 points.

    They achieved this by utilising targeted federal government national school partnership funding. With this financial assistance, Iramoo started coaching for teachers and early intervention programs for students. And they demonstrated, like so many others in my electorate, what happens when you are serious about addressing inequity, and about improving teaching and learning.

    When I visited the school two weeks ago, the principal, Moira Findlay, spoke at length of the work of the last four years and of the need for the work to continue. Just imagine what they could do with adequate Better Schools funding. But, instead of certainty, they have confusion. Because of those opposite, the funding that Iramoo Primary School needs to continue its vital programs is now in doubt. Not only have they reduced long-term funding for education but they have also given the Victorian government licence to cut their own contributions. With no strings attached, the Napthine government can now use federal money in place of its own funding.

    We are dealing with a state government that ripped away money from TAFE and ripped away money from vocational education. Just like its federal counterpart, it is not a government that seems to care about education.

    So I call on this government and Minister Pyne to end the doubt, to fulfil the promise of a unity ticket on education and to let Iramoo continue its four-year journey. Who knows how far this school and these students could go and what contribution they could make if we had a government willing to invest in their future?

  • Time for Tony to Guarantee School Funding

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Minister for Education Christopher Pyne have broken their promise on education, Member for Lalor Joanne Ryan said today.

    “This is a breach of trust for every parent in our community, and in Australia” Ms Ryan said.

    Since announcing the Government would walk away from the promised funding model, Mr Abbott has refused to guarantee that no school would be worse off.

    “This move shows that this is not the government they said they’d be. It also demonstrates how little they care about the future of our kids”.

    Ms Ryan said that as a former teacher and principal, she knew what Labor’s education funding model could do for local schools.

    “There are many schools in this electorate with great stories to tell about the positive impact Federal Labor Government funding has had on student results, disproving Mr Pyne’s claim that money hasn’t improved outcomes.”

    “I challenge Mr Pyne and Mr Abbott to come and meet local Principals and School Councils and listen to how these schools have used National Partnerships funding to improve classroom learning for students.”

    “What we now require is the delivery of what was promised. A national needs-based system so money is guaranteed for the kids that need it most.”

    “But what Mr Abbott is proposing is a return to the old broken system where inequalities go unaddressed.”

    “Local parents are rightly concerned about what this will mean for their children and I will fight to ensure their voices are heard.”

  • Education Funding

    I rise to speak today about a subject dear to my heart and dear to the hearts of parents and teachers in the 53 schools within the electorate of Lalor. I speak of education funding reform. I wish I could talk about the impact of high expectations on student learning, on the impact of the meta analysis of Professor Robert Marzano and Professor John Hattie. I wish I could talk about the impact that had on schools. I wish I could rise today to speak about this in a real and useful way. But, unfortunately, this vitally important issue has been reduced to a mere debacle by those opposite. There have been backflips, half-pikes and half-pikes with twists used to obfuscate this critical policy area during and since the election campaign. In the process, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education have made and broken promises, leaving school leaders in every state and territory of our nation trying to read the words, read between the lines, infer and guess what the future will be for their schools.

    Let me summarise. In the last three years, while the Gillard government conducted an exhaustive education review that attracted 7,000 submissions, in his capacity as shadow minister, the member for Sturt asked just three questions about education. On release of the Gonski report, the same member took just minutes to dismiss it as a con. When Better Schools proved critical to voters, they did a U-turn and promised a unity ticket, even though it was two years and many millions of dollars short. After taking government, we heard Minister Pyne talking about the curriculum, specifically the history curriculum—yes, that old chestnut. Predictably, this stole the headlines while the undoing of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, or ACARA, went unnoticed. Next he was backflipping on the now non-unity ticket and saying he needed to go back to the drawing board—the drawing board of the previous, Liberal government. Then we had the Prime Minister saying he did not promise anything, or maybe he did and we misheard him, or maybe we all just imagined it. Anyway, the Prime Minister would only keep the promise that he had not made, that we had imagined but that no-one had heard. And then yesterday he declared he would fulfil the misheard promise that maybe had been made after all. Now he is telling us he will go one better and find the money for the state governments who have shown their contempt for student learning by putting politics over progress. But it is still not unity. It is another new promise, this time to our state premiers that they do not need to spend money on education after all.

    I am tired just trying to make sense of it all, but not trying to make sense of it is not a luxury that we can afford—not for the parents of our students or the committed educators; they need to know so they can plan and implement programs to give every child the best chance in life. The most damning thing of all in this circus charading as policy is what lies behind all the shenanigans. There are a couple of giveaways: the destruction of ACARA as an independent body working with states and territories and putting in place a critical data source to tell the story of our schools and of disparity amongst them. This and Minister Pyne's assertion that Australia does not have an equity issue are the keys to this protracted mess. It tells us much about this government's plans for education. They are not interested in addressing inequity; they are acting to enshrine it by hiding it and denying it. But the My School website and the ACARA data have been available for a long time and schools have been tracking their progress against national and state benchmarks for years.

    Today I want to share the story of two schools I visited in my electorate last week. Both have made good use of national partnerships money and Victorian equity funding over the past four years. The first is Westgrove Primary School. The principal is Lila Gray. In 2009, Westgrove had an ICSEA—Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage—ranking of 989 and their grade 3 students performed below average in reading, writing and numeracy. By 2012 it had an ICSEA ranking of 956. The measure of disadvantage had in fact increased, and yet the grade 3 students performed above the state average in reading, writing and numeracy in 2013. The second is Iramoo Primary School. The principal is Moira Findlay. Four years ago, this school had an ICSEA ranking of 940 and grade 5 students performed 50 points below the state average in reading, writing and numeracy. In 2012 it had an ICSEA ranking of 928.